A footage of a bloodied male passenger who was being dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight on Sunday (9 April) went viral on social media and various international news agencies.
The male passenger was forcefully taken off United Express Flight 3411 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago for refusing to disembark from the plane after he had been randomly chosen by the airline.
The airline said that he was one of four passengers selected for removal so that United personnel could be seated on the full flight.
On Wednesday, Straits Times (ST) reported a version of the story, citing news from the Daily Mail, the New York Post, and TMZ on the victim himself.
According to ST, the man was has been identified by various media as a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American grandfather, Dr David Dao.
Dr Dao is said to have studied at a medical school in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. He is married to a paediatrician and they have five children, four of whom are also doctors.
ST also wrote that there were many reports that Dr Dao has troubled past that he has been arrested for a couple of times in specific details.
In response to the article, many readers were apparently angered by how the article depicted Dr Dao in a bad light, saying that the article is an act of victim shaming as his past has nothing to do with the treatment that he was subjected to.
One particular comment from Sheri Goh garnered more that 2,200 likes, with many responding to her comment.
Goh wrote, “Wow, Straits Times, victim-shaming much? He could have been a thug or a criminal, but he still did not deserve to have been treated that way. Shame on you for being complicit in United Airlines’ humiliation of him.”
Many of netizens responded by saying that his past has nothing to do with the recent incident.
Abhinit Ambastha wrote, “Biased irrelevant journalism is not reporting. They’re trying to put up a case stating “He deserved to be treated that way so don’t sympathise with him”. Reporting would have been relevant to the incident.”
Lim Maiko also responded by writing, “What did u expect from the 154th? Serious and credible journalism?”
However, some defended ST. Joshua Yak tagged Ms Lim on his response and wrote, “This came up in other news before ST reported it. Making this comment in the NY times and Other news publishers too?”
While Daniel Ng wrote, “It’s not victim shaming. It’s just reporting.”
Many others also commented on the news. Here are what they wrote in full:
- Khrusia karib Shah wrote, “His past history has nothing to do with him being ill-treated!”
- Jennifer Lee wrote, “Now the doctor has even more reasons to sue UA. He didn’t board their plane to have his past dug up and aired like an international star.”
- Kok Chwee Sim wrote, “ST Editor : The doctor may have a less-than-sterling past but he is not on trial here. He was in possession of a valid ticket, was checked-in and boarded the flight … he has as much entitlement to a seat on this flight as every other passenger. Is the ST trying to justify the violence and mitigate the seriousness of United’s action … I do not recall the last time United invest in print advertising.”
- Joshua Yak wrote, “Freaking rubbish. Now they are saying the doctor has a history of drug abuse and sexual misconduct and was suspended for 10 years from 2005 – 2015. Too bad the doctor has a poor rep and is a criminal. But it has nothing to do with United removing someone from a plane forcibly when the ticket is paid for! Rubbish!”
- Matahari Dinihari wrote, “I hope he sues UA for every dollars to cover his emotional, physical and mental abused by the hands of those baboons.”
- Danial Mustafa wrote, “Really ST? How about you do a report about the staff that dragged him out? Who knows maybe you can find out he has a history of domestic abuses, is homophobic or even xenophobic.
Whats the purpose of this article anyway? To make us use up free 15 articles per month?”
- Flor Leow DHenrychan wrote, “Whatever the man’s past was; he does not deserve to be treated in this brutal manner by United Airlines. He was a paying passenger who was forcibly yanked off his seat and dragged through the aisle, resulting in a bloodied face. And here, it is victim-blaming by newspaper reports.
The airline’s horrific humiliation of him has nothing to do with the doctor’s past.”
- Benjamin Soh wrote, “Does it mean that he deserved what he got because of his past? What’s the point of this article anyway?”
- Faisal Muhammad wrote, “Eh hello?! Your screen grab is from the Daily Mail? Your sources were New York Post and TMZ? Are you the Straits Times or another tabloid? Shame on you! Shame! Straits Times has gone downhill because of writers like you. So embarrassed at the quality of this post. Victim shaming. This is truly a disappointing day for journalism in singapore.”
- Novida Wanty Panggabean wrote, “Excuse me, The Strait Times. The incident has nothing to do with his past, please. He was randomly selected because he is old, weak and an Asian. That was totally such a racist, brutal and barbaric action done by the airline. An airline survives by money paid by passengers so it’s time for Asians to boycott United Airlines to show we care about this incident!”